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Let's Just Say Life's Been Busy

To be fair, last year had its bumps and bruises. The unexpected loss of multiple loved ones, each leaving their questions and scars, and, well, life just being messy and busy and full... If I got a little quiet there, it was to shore up against the storms.


What I want to do on this first day of National Poetry Month 2024 is cherish how much we've done as a community over the past year. Lucas County overflows with poetry!



Poet Laureate of Lucas County - 2023 Wrap-up:


In 2023, I continued to tour as a poetic representative of Lucas County. I was a featured poet at St. Augustine PoetFest in St. Augustine, Florida, as well as traveling to Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cleveland, Columbus, Youngstown, Detroit and Kentucky to read and spread the good word of poetry.


What I am most proud of is how many new reading series have started here at home:  Poetry & Soul Series, Open Mic at Boochy Mamma’s, Open Mic at the Beirut, and the poetry events at Lucille’s. It is not mere circumstance that leadership in our poetic community is growing. Artists are empowered when artistic leadership is recognized and supported. Real growth happens all across the community and we definitely are seeing that growth.


This was a year of reinforcing our community commitment to all - events raised money for the Aggie Fund, for Cora’s Heart, for the Collingwood Arts Center, and even for a local poet who has been a backbone of the poetry community for many years. More than ever, poets are supporting each other through cross-promotion, not only spreading the news about their own events, but sharing information about events all over the county. We had multiple events to give greater voice to LGBTQIA artists. We hosted Ohio Poet Laureate, Kari Gunter-Seymour’s Women of Appalachia Project reading of Women Speak. We shared the voices of poets from other countries at the Welcoming Party at Sanger Branch Library.


Poets of all ages were supported at many times during the year - at Poetry Out Loud, Northwest Ohio Teen Bookfest, at JustWrite and even with visits to classrooms and an assisted living. Ode to the Zipcode was a massive hit in 2023, featuring multiple writing workshops, greater school involvement and the largest number of entries in the history of the writing competition! 


The WritersShop Writing Workshop Series has continued and grown, with new workshop leaders and a growing audience of engaged writers. The Uncloistered Poetry series brought in people from all over the country, in person and online. And annual events like Momentum offered numerous poetic stages for area poets and for poetry lovers. 


And I’ll end on one last point of pride. Poets have grown brave in this community. So many local poets are not just showing up at open mics, they are getting published, celebrating their first book, and traveling for spoken word competitions. They have a strong enough community here to know their value outside of our little pond. That confidence, so many people growing at the same time, is the result of community support and outreach. I am intensely proud of the tenacity and talent of our Toledo poets. 





A few highlights from 2023:


January

  • Solidarity event at Pride Center as fundraiser for Aggie Fund

  • Featured reader at Representative Michelle Grimm’s swearing-in gathering at Gerber House

Photo at Uncloistered Poetry Live - January with Jodie Summers. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Wagner)


February

  • Ode to the Zipcode writing workshops at area libraries

  • Judge NW Ohio regional Poetry Out Loud high school competition 

  • Shared the work of local artist Tanasio Loudermill with Lucas County Commissioners

  • Raised money for Cora’s Heart non-profit, through Toledo poet Floetically Divine

Photo at Poetry and Soul, hosted by Kay Renee.


March

  • Attend Poetry Out Loud state competition to represent NW Ohio region

  • NW Ohio Teen Bookfest - writing workshop and teen poetry slam

  • Featured reader in new Poetry & Soul reading series hosted by Kay Renee

  • Featured reader in Pittsburgh at OddMonth reading

  • Raised money for cherished Toledo Poet Bob Phillips

At St. Augustine PoetFest.


April 

  • Read at and lead writing activity at Kingston of Perrysburg Assisted Living

  • Featured artist at St. Augustine PoetFest in St. Augustine, Florida - gave reading as part of keynote, and served on panel of women writers

  • Ode to the Zipcode - the biggest one yet! Most entries in contest, about 130 in attendance

Local poetic artists Adrian Lime, Simone Spruce, and Sandra Rivers-Gill waiting for Ode to the Zipcode to get underway.


May

  • JustWrite teen writing competition in Findlay - led 2 writing workshops, judged competition and emceed

  • Shared the work of winning Ode to the Zipcode winners with Lucas County Commissioners

  • Toledo Museum of Art - lead writing workshop, judged Poetry contest, emceed Poetry Contest event

Uncloistered Poetry at the Switchboard, with Jason Baldinger, Dianne Borsenik, Stephanie Kendrick, and E. M. Anderson (photo courtesy of Adrian Lime)


June

  • Pride of Rust and Glass reading at Pride Center in the Collingwood Arts Center

  • Read in Pride in Poetry at West Toledo Library

  • Read in OH Poet Laureate’s Women Speak event in Nelsonville, Ohio

  • Read in YWCA ekphrastic artists show in Youngstown, Ohio

Uncloistered Poetry Live at the Attic, with Dan Canterbury, Bonnie Proudfoot, Sandra Marchetti, and Detrick Hughes.



July

  • Hosted God of Sore Feet tour for visiting poets - highest selling night of their tour

  • Read in Cleveland for Tongue in Groove Jam series hosted by Ray McNiece

With John Clayton at Poetry at Beirut open mic.


August

  • Read at Ohio State Fair as part of Ohio Poetry Association

  • Worked in collaboration with Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania poets to host Rust Belt City Tour - readings in Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh

  • Raised money for Collingwood Arts Center at Rust Belt City Tour event

  • Hosted and read in OH Poet Laureate’s Women Speak event at Downtown Toledo Library

  • Recorded Of Rust and Glass podcast with Curtis Deeter at WGTE

Rust Belt City Tour at Collingwood Arts Center, with Paul Trombley, Karen Schubert, Cal Freeman, Angel James, Mitch James, Sarah Pazur, Jason Storms and Felicia Krol. (Photo courtesy of Kerry Trautman)


September

  • Arts Commission event, Momentum - worked on committee to plan event, hosted three public readings and read on outdoor stage

  • Brought poets of many languages (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish) to Welcoming Party at Sanger Branch Library

  • Presentation to 5th and 6th grade classes at Queen of Apostles Elementary School in Toledo

  • Read poetry and staffed Ode to the Zipcode table at West Toledo Library’s 100th Anniversary celebration

Juan Rojas and Ati Albarkat at Welcome Week, hosted by Welcome TLC and Toledo Lucas County Public Library.


October 

  • Lit Youngstown Festival - read in Cardinal Sings panel, led poets of Sheila-na-Gig Editions reading, led writing workshop session about including color in writing, and emceed writing workshop session of Ross Gay

  • Read in new open mic series hosted by Bea Fields and Monika Perry at Boochy Mama’s 

With my love, Adrian Lime, at Boochy Mama's Open Mic.


November 

  • Featured reader at Writers Guild Spoken Word Series in Bloomington, Indiana

  • Featured reader at Howard’s in Bowling Green to kick off the annual Winter Wheat Mid-American Review Festival of Writing

  • Judge NW Ohio regional Poetry Out Loud high school competition 

Nate Hicks featuring in Uncloistered Poetry Live at the Peacock Cafe.


December

  • Attended writing retreat at Knob’s Haven in Kentucky, coordinated by Pauletta Hansel

Featured readers for Uncloistered Poetry Online - Women of Poetfest Edition in December, with Priness Simpson Rashid, Paula Hilton, and Cynthia Atkins. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Lime)

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Thank you for your support to Northwest Ohio and surrounding areas from Douglas Clark

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Amazing chronicle. Thank you for helping to put St. Augustine PoetFest on the map.

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